Top 10 Reasons Not to Choose a Do‐It‐Yourself Divorce
Some people going through a divorce are reluctant to incur legal fees and try to turn to do-it-yourself divorces, filing divorce papers that they find on the Internet or otherwise trying to work through the divorce process without a lawyer. This is often a bad idea. Read on for the top 10 reasons not to choose a do-it-yourself divorce.
- The process can be very emotional: It can be hard to use good judgment in making a financial settlement or custody arrangements as emotions may cloud your thought process. If you get professional legal help, an impartial attorney can give you advice and can keep the process from being too emotional.
- It can take a long time to come to an agreement without help: You and your spouse may not be getting along well by the time you get to the point in the marriage where you consider divorce. It may be very hard for you to come to an agreement on the terms of a divorce.
- You may agree to something unfavorable just to get the process over with: People sometimes get worn down during the dissolution of a marriage and the divorce process, and you may make a poor decision just to get it over with. When you later end up regretting it, it can be hard to undo.
- You may agree to unfavorable terms because you don’t fully understand them: If your spouse comes up with an agreement that you don’t read carefully or that you don’t fully understand, you also may end up agreeing to something you later regret.
- There is no one to protect your legal rights: A lawyer has a fiduciary duty to look out for you during the divorce process. If you try to do it yourself, you have no one to protect your rights and you may not be fully aware of what you are entitled to under the law.
- The laws in every state differ in regards to acceptable reasons for divorce: In some states, you have to live apart for a certain period of time or fulfill other requirements. If you aren’t sure what is required, you could end up having your divorce papers denied by the court or you could end up making the divorce process even longer.
- You may be denied alimony or property you are legally entitled to: The law sets rules on the division of assets; for example, in community property states everything may have to be split 50-50. If you don’t learn these rules, you may sign an agreement that gives you less than what you would be entitled to.
- The court may not approve the divorce: A judge will look over your divorce papers and agreement and has to sign off on it. If the agreement does things that aren’t legal–like waiving child support–the judge may not approve it.
- You may forget important things when drafting your divorce agreement- There are all sorts of things you may not think of, such as pension and Social Security benefits and issues related to health insurance. An attorney who is experienced in the divorce process can help you cover all your bases.
- You may not save very much money anyway: Some attorneys are willing to work on a flat-fee basis, and others will not charge that much if you have a basic agreement worked out and just need them to look it over. The investment in an attorney is usually worth it.